Online dating overwhelm

Online dating isn’t always *fun*
Here are my favorite tricks to keep it from becoming stressful
The TL;DR takeaways:
Use different sites, and keep using the ones that land you the most enjoyable dates
Use Gmail filters to divert and manage online dating messages more effectively
Take breaks from online dating if you have to
Get out there and try to meet people via other avenues, online or in person
Remember, you can hire a coach like me to make it all more fun and efficient. :)
When I first met my husband Grant back in 2006, it wasn’t some simple, straightforward process. I’d been trying online dating for three whole years, and by the time I met him, I had tried… let me think… The Onion (aka Spring Street Networks), Yahoo Personals, Match, eHarmony, The Stranger, and a bunch of different Craigslist ads. I might have missed a couple. The point is, I was THOROUGH.

My pals were amused and confused by my continued fervor despite mostly lackluster results. But the thing is, I could tell my online dating experience was improving. My writing was getting better, and so were my dates. While this was clearly a numbers game to some extent, it was also true that each new ad or profile yielded mates that were that much better a fit for my personality. So I stuck it out. And, as you probably know, I met the love of my life (via this ad that made best-of Craigslist!).

But I totally get the overwhelm. I had to take breaks between rounds of online dating for the same reason. It’s easy to go crazy with setting up date after date for every free night you have, but that’s a fast path to burnout no matter WHAT activity you’re using to fill up your calendar. People are meant to spend the occasional night in! That’s why we have streaming video! :) It’s important to take it easy, to schedule your dates farther apart than you think you need to (especially if you’re juggling multiple potential dates), and to generally just remember to give yourself a break from time to time.

There are subtler ways in which overwhelm can creep in, too. There’s Inbox Overwhelm, in which you get way too many messages from whatever system you’re using (often kinda manipulative marketing ones) to get you to interact more, click more, view more profiles, go on more dates, and get more overwhelmed. Well, most of you probably already know about my tech tips page, which walks you through how to create online dating Gmail filters so these at least don’t bombard your main inbox. If you’re willing to get more sophisticated with your filtering, you can also send the ones that aren’t actual messages from real people directly to the trash. Ask me if you’d like more help with sophisticated filtering.

It also helps to spend time targeting different services or apps, if you’re using multiple online dating tools. That way, if you find yourself making connections on Tinder way easier than on OKCupid, you can keep doing that for a while, and you can afford to get lazy about your OKCupid presence. After all, you should use what ultimately leads to more enjoyable dates, regardless of whether it seems like it was made for a different demographic or purpose. (I admit this is tougher when you’re paying for a service, but there are so many great free services now, and those are the two biggest ones. And realistically, you can probably afford to let Match take your money for one inactive month if you can afford a membership at all.)

Another thing I really encourage clients to laugh it off. Straight women in particular get SUCH a ridiculous onslaught of totally inappropriate and/or lazy messages from guys who are clearly trying a scattershot approach, and straight men get either clearly spammy fake messages, or just get frustrated trying to cut through all the noise of their lazy inappropriate competition. Gay guys often have to parse messages that would be more appropriate to Grindr when they’re trying to find something less sex-based, and lesbians have to fend off straight male impostors. All of these sites and their user bases have gotten bigger and more complicated, so the whole process can feel ridiculous. Being able to vent and chuckle over a drink or two with some other single friends definitely helps. So seek out your digital wing men and women—ya never know; going out with them may just help you meet someone in real life, while you’re at it!

And to that point, this may sound crazy given that my entire profession is built around making online dating better… but don’t rely ONLY on dating sites in your search for love! Online dating works best when it’s just one tool in your toolbox. Going out with friends, going on adventures alone, joining Meetup groups for your hobbies and interests, and exploring online communities that aren’t specifically geared towards dating are all great ways to broaden your search, and have fun while doing so. Even if you’re an introvert who’d rather not network or hit the bars, go play an MMO with a guild, or participate in a really active forum or subreddit. Interact with other humans, even if you do so from your laptop in bed. :) If nothing else, this keeps your social skills sharper for when you do go on online dates.

If you have your own tricks for dealing with Online Dating Overwhelm, please let me know so I can share them! I’d love to help everyone meet their matches without feeling exhausted in the process. And of course, if you’d like more personalized help to speed up your online dating arc and make it more fun, you can always hire me. :)

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